Next City article features PI’s health equity road map for realizing zero traffic fatalities in diverse communities
Vision Zero is a growing movement among US cities to eliminate traffic-related deaths and severe injuries; it can also become an opportunity to reduce inequities in physical activity environments like safe spaces to walk, bike, and play. In our latest brief, Vision Zero: A Health Equity Road Map for Getting to Zero in Every Community, featured in a recent Next City article, Prevention Institute makes the case that “getting to zero” requires an explicit focus on health equity.
The brief emphasizes the importance of multi-sector collaboration to address the underlying conditions that lead to traffic crashes. Because good solutions solve multiple problems, physical activity advocates have an important role to ensure that Vision Zero’s traffic safety efforts reduce fatalities and injuries while also supporting safe physical activity. Many of the same conditions that prevent community residents from engaging in physical activity—from persistent disinvestment and poorly maintained infrastructure to inadequate planning—also lead to inequities in traffic-related injuries and death.
The good news is that many of the strategies that support active transportation and safe physical activity in low income communities and communities of color can also reduce injuries and traffic fatalities. “To work from a health equity lens you need to look at the root causes,” says Elva Yanez, report co-author and PI’s director of health equity, in the Next City article. “Look at the policies, practices and norms that have allowed these disparities to arise in the first place.”
The brief offers three recommendations to incorporate health equity into traffic safety planning and implementation in the US:
- Identify conditions that create traffic-safety inequities in the first place
To address traffic safety concerns, it’s essential to first understand the community conditions that determine which places and people are at risk and why. A comprehensive set of strategies can then be designed to address those conditions and prevent deaths and injuries before they occur.
- Engage diverse partners and start with community members to define safe solutions
When it comes to preventing traffic injuries and deaths, many sectors have a role to play – not just health and transportation. That means working with government agencies such as public works, parks and recreation, and public safety, as well as with community-based organizations and other community partners like local businesses. Leveraging the lived experience of community members is also essential to this process.
- Collect and use data that gets at equity
Robust, high-quality data is necessary to identify which communities and populations experience the greatest burden of traffic-related injuries and deaths, for pinpointing their underlying causes, and for monitoring and evaluating interventions. This includes what information is collected and how, how the data is used, and who has access to it.
For more information, read the full Vision Zero brief here.